Just awoken from their quiet slumber (and right in time for the gift-giving season) Sagaponack Farm Distillery is poised to release two new exciting whiskeys from their home-grown (literally) family of spirits — and they’re throwing a little party to celebrate.
On Saturday, December 16, head on over to the tasting room at 369 Sagg Road in Sagaponack from 3 to 7 p.m. for complimentary sample tastings of the duo of new releases: the sherry barrel finished Bourbon and cabernet sauvignon barrel finished Empire Rye.
“I’m really happy with them. One thing I was wondering is if I would overdo the fruitiness from either barrel finish, but it didn’t’ happen,” says Matt Beamer, the distiller at the farm-to-flask distillery, and partner with brother-sister farmers, Marilee and Dean Foster, whose family has been farming the land in Sagaponack for six generations.
But Beamer has shown his deft hand, talent and good decision-making from the get-go in the craft distilling process, creating not only stellar whiskeys at Sagaponack, but also in making full use of other the Foster farm-grown grains and produce in bottles like the clever whiskey-like Single Spud, which treats potato-based spirits like a whiskey, a multitude of excellent vodkas, gin and aquavit among them.
But while the vodka and gin products were on the market soon after the distillery formed in 2012, whiskey is a spirit that, due the necessary aging process, typically takes years before it’s ready for prime time. Their rye and bourbon were released about a year ago, and since then Beamer held some of that good juice back in what are considered finishing barrels — that is, after the spirit initially ages in new American oak, as per federal standards, some producers choose to layer on a little more flavor and nuance by aging for several month or even up to year or so in barrels that once held other flavorful liquids.
“I actually had a cracked [barrel] stave on the big one,” says Beamer, about the cask he purchased for the bourbon, which one held Pedro Jimenez sherry, an aged, fortified wine that had notes of rich, dried fruit. The crack in the barrel meant some liquid leaked during the aging process, but it turned out to be a happy accident. “I didn’t get the juice bomb notes I was concerned it might. You get all this bourbon flavor and some fruity notes, and a little bit of a botanical finish that’s a nice enhancement.”
For the bourbon, he asked his friend Kareem Massoud, winemaker at Paumanok Vineyards, for an ex-red wine barrel. He wound up choosing a 225 liter barrel that once held cabernet sauvignon to use for the Empire Rye.
“I was looking for some interesting fruitiness to play nice with the intense flavors of the whiskey,” Beamer says. “It occured to me that the tannic nature of the wine barrel might fight with the pepperiness of the rye, but it really kind of played nice with it. It’s just slightly more peppery, but it’s not over done which I appreciate personally. It’s really in balance, likely in part because of the amount of malt[ed barley] we use in it. It’s quite nice!”
Both bottles will be available for tasting and purchase at the December 16 party, which will also feature classic cocktails made with the limited-edition spirits, as well as complementary bites to highlight the new whiskey releases from food truck, The Dish. Each spirit will be available in both 375ml and 750ml size, priced at $65 and $199 for the Cabernet Sauvignon finished Empire Rye, and $54 and $100 for the sherry cask-finished Bourbon.
Extra bonus: Beamer will be on hand at the December 16 event to sign bottles (great gift alert!), and answer questions, as will Marilee (who designs all the lovely labels, if you were unaware) and Dean Foster.